Sacramento’s Justyn Cox, a self-professed “dirt kid,” hopes his experience behind the wheel of a 900-horsepower sprint car will give him an edge next month during the 2014 PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge.
During the competition, June 9-11 in Charlotte, N.C., drivers will be tested through short-track, road course, speedway, car control, endurance racing and other competitive elements, plus their ability to handle media and sponsor requests. The winner earns professional training, the opportunity to earn his or her official NASCAR competition license and a PEAK-sponsored stock car to compete in a NASCAR K&N race.
Cox, 19, was selected to compete after he submitted a video and his résumé to PEAK, the antifreeze manufacturing company, and Michael Waltrip Racing, which will oversee the training and on-track racing component. Joining Waltrip in the evaluation process will be NASCAR drivers Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Danica Patrick and Jeff Burton.
“I’ve never driven a Late Model race car before, only sprint cars and karts,” Cox said. “But I don’t think any of the other drivers have experience driving so much horsepower as I do. I’m more worried about doing pit stops than racing on the track.”
Cox’s friend, Kyle Larson, made the jump from dirt to asphalt, from open-wheel sprinters to Late Models, a couple of years ago and now has a NASCAR ride. Cox said as teenagers he and Larson would race anything with wheels – karts, lawnmowers, bicycles – on his parents’ land in Clarksburg.
“Kyle has already given me some pointers,” Cox said. “I went back to Charlotte for his (Sprint) Cup debut with a couple of other friends last year and he got us hot passes to the pits, and I just soaked it all in. This is what I want to do.”
Patrick Staropoli, a 24-year-old Harvard grad and medical student from Florida who moonlights as a driver, won the inaugural PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge competition last year. Staropoli, who now drives for Bill McAnally Racing, has three K&N Pro Series West top-10 finishes, including a win at Irwindale.
Misty eyes fourth straight victory – Marysville’s Misty Castleberry has won all three main events this season in the Pro 4 division at Marysville Raceway Park.
Castleberry has been so successful against men over the years that promoter Paul Hawes has instituted “bounties” to anyone who can beat her in the mains, with the money usually staying in Hawes’ pocket. With Castleberry’s hot start, there may be more bounties when the division returns May 31.
Bugorama arrives next week – The Bugorama, May 25 at the Sacramento Raceway, includes all-Volkswagen drag races, a car show and a swap meet. It’s the largest event for VW enthusiasts in Northern California.
For more information, go to www.bugorama.com.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at email@example.com.